The Walkin’ Joe Duke Health Story!
As I reflect on my cancer of early 2008, we prepare for our Annual Mid Eastern Cruise-In on March 16th, 2019. The Cruise-In features semi-trucks and this year to include classic cars, antiques and more that will support Duke Cancer Institute.
I am a survivor of a few life obstacles. Maybe I’ve just had a few challenges to overcome in order to celebrate a few life victories! An Airplane Crash, Arthritis and Spinal Stenosis, and everything that is the natural course following 15 fractures and 9 orthopedic surgeries, a Heart Stint, and yes Melanoma.
For myself and I would guess for most others, when that doctor entered the exam room to give me the news, it was a difficult encounter. The questions and answers began in the next few moments as I sat in that room with my hometown physician of many years. My mind was racing. Where would I go? What will they do? What’s the prognosis of this? My doctor says, “if you will travel, my first choice for you is Duke Medical University”. At this time, I had only heard rumblings about Duke Healthcare and it always seemed like a place far away that only the elite or some special group of folks went. Surely it wasn’t for me. My immediate question for him was always, “is that where you would take your wife for this treatment?” Will I travel? I did go to Minnesota to get an operation on my elbow. I do make my living working with truckers. Travel is what we do. Now for the next and perhaps hardest phase: to share this news with my wife and family and then to wait! Yes, to wait. So, you think it’s hard to wait at that stop light or for that car to get out of your way in traffic? With those orthopedic surgeries and recovery from the airplane crash, I had learned a little about waiting and now it was happening all over again but with a little different twist.
The Duke appointment call, from Dr Pruitt’s nurse Ms. Nancy Prickett a very special team member of the surgical department, came in just three days. I know exactly where I was, with my wife in the car as we were muttering through life trying to disguise the anxiety that we were each feeling. Somehow in that phone conversation a peace came over me that is a bit unexplainable. The appointment was in just a couple days. I was in, and had further biopsies that were followed very quickly by many other tests, and then the removal surgery. In reflecting, this all happened really fast. This cancer had spread into my lymph nodes and there was no time to waste to prevent possible metastasis to other areas. My care provider, Dr. Pruitt, turns out to be a research scientist extraordinaire and a surgeon. He has since gone to work with a pharmaceutical team researching for further good of mankind. I was then transferred to the care of Dr. Tyler and now continuing under the care of Dr. Mosca. The phenomenal experience continues even now.
So, for the real substance of this; How is it possible? How could it be that the Duke Health organization would take care of me or you? How could this giant, this research center of scientists marveled by the world, this enormous cancer center, this University of Medicine, these physicians of a multitude of disciplines, the nurses and extended care givers, all coming together to help take care of me or of you? I’m just J Witt with a medical record number so how could this be? To share it with you; It could be and was and is because every DCI encounter is personal. Sometimes on my visits it began with the folks parking cars as you enter the facility. The Duke approach is that it takes everyone working together. I’ve shared with you and will continue sharing the messages and announcements of trials and research to conquer this disease in all its forms. I’ve had the privilege of attending several Melanoma Research Consortiums as well as several other group gatherings at the Duke facilities to learn more. The more I learn and the more I interact with DCI and the more I see of others that are affected the more inspired I am to try to make a difference. I want to share the news! My greatest desire is that other folks affected by this might share in the same wonderful experience that I had and still receive.
I dare say that you could ask at any gathering of people if there is a single soul that has not been affected by cancer in some way? Is there hardly a single person that could say that they do not have a friend, distant or close relative that has not had some form of cancer?
It is my sincere hope that you would be also inspired by this. I ask that you would support now and into the future this tremendous and well-organized effort to advance reseach and knowlege to aid the cure for Cancer. I hope that you will learn about this organization and also that you would become aware of all the information they so selflessly share for the benefit of you and for others.
This continuance of extraordinary service, of research beyond all boundaries, of collaborations worldwide, and personal care to and for every individual, with the “Claim of Hope” at every encounter is only possible through the support of many.
Support the Duke Cancer Institute efforts. Please Donate now!
I Remain Triumphant!
I invite you to come to Mid Eastern Cruise-In, details here: